My Week in Athens… Mar 7

  • by XpatAthens
  • Thursday, 05 February 2015
My Week in Athens… Mar 7
This week we all heard the great news about the Rethink Athens design competition. For those who are just tuning in, Rethink Athens is an international competition, where urban designers from around the world could submit their plans for revamping, restructuring and rebuilding the heart of the city centre. Sponsored by the Onassis Cultural Foundation.

The whole thing has been in the works for many months, with lots of talk and speculation and Facebooking on the topic.

When the winner was announced this week at a big event at the Onassis Centre (attended by Mr. Samaras and a host of other important political and cultural officials), I followed it with much interest.

The winning design was submitted by Dutch design firm ‘Okra’, and involves a beautiful and eco-friendly plan for pedestrianizing Panepistimiou St., along with a revamp of Omonia and Syntagma squares. The plan is supported by politicians of many stripes, with completion for the entire re-do set for 2015.

I got to thinking… this could be the best news I’ve heard in months. The biggest breath of fresh air that Athens has been offered in ages. It reminded me of the period leading up to the Olympics in 2004, where, despite setbacks, schedule scares and the usual naysayers, the city came together in a feeling of great pride and accomplishment. I hope that this has the same effect. Rethinking Athens has been a long time coming, but maybe, just maybe, it’s the emotional boost that the city needs to weather the storms ahead.

Rethinking Athens is perhaps the easy part – re-making Athens will be the challenge. But I can’t deny the awesome feeling of ‘What if…’ that nags at the back of my mind. What if it all happened as they say…

Until next week,


In this weekly space, keep up with ‘Jack’ as he navigates daily life in Athens… Anecdotes, stories, hits & misses, the good, the bad and, well, the rest…